A match that started in brilliant sunshine Tuesday between two of the best high school golf teams in the desert ended with the sun well behind the San Jacinto Mountains and players struggling to see the cup on the final hole.
When the final putt was holed, it was Xavier Prep earning a 191-198 win over the Palm Desert Aztecs in an early season Desert Valley League test for both teams.
“I hate it, because arguably the best four golfers were in that last group. Probably four of the best golfers in the valley were in that last group,” Xavier head coach Doug Daffern said. “It’s so dark, Charlie (Reiter of Palm Desert) is trying to hit a hard shot out of the bunker, and you can’t see. At the same time, we were so deliberate over a lot of our shots that, well, I don’t know.”
No matter the length of the match – just more than three hours for the last group to play the front nine holes at Classic Club in Palm Desert – it was Xavier Prep who came away with the win to take the early advantage in the DVL race. Xavier is now 3-0 in league, while Palm Desert dropped its first league match of the year.
“The outcome wasn’t what we were looking for,” said Palm Desert head coach Kurt Ney. “We knew it was going to be a close match today on their course. We kind of stumbled on this last hole, which made the difference in the match. We were short one player today, but (Xavier) played a good round of golf.”
Medalist for the match was Caesar Cheng with a 3-under 33 that included four birdies, one bogey and several long putts holed. That started on the first hole when Cheng rolled in a 60-foot putt for birdie.
“I was just trying to get on the greens and make putts,” Cheng said. “I was a little lucky (on the opening putt). I was just trying to get the speed.”
Like other players in the match, Cheng was frustrated by finishing in the dark.
“It’s crazy. I really can’t see my last putt right there,” he said.
Jack Solis added an even-par 36 for Xavier, followed by Delong Tan and Jay Chang both at 39 and Stone Van at 44. Chris Quagiani’s 47 was not counted in the six-play, five-score format.
For Palm Desert, Reiter and John Kim each shot 38, with Derrick Lee at 39, Adam Co at 40 and Justin Kallmann at 42. T.J. Wurtz’ 44 was not counted.
Daffern was happy with his team’s first win over Palm Desert since 2015, though he sees room for improvement for his team.
“I feel good because (Palm Desert) is a phenomenal program, they really are,” Daffern said. “They are like a stepping stone. We have been playing decent, but we haven’t played really well. And I don’t think we played really well today with the exception of Caesar. Caesar played exceptionally well and Jack did a great job. But the rest of us still struggled a bit.”
Both teams walked away from the match confused and amused by the dark ending.
“It’s pretty strange playing in the dark,” Ney said. “But sometimes it happens and you just have to fight through it.”